Nate watches Avatar #3.16-3.21

The last disc!  How does the show round out the end?  Well it would have to do better than the movie (congrats to Ryan on finally getting his recap up).

Chapter 16. the Southern Raiders – Standard, but pretty interesting episode.  This must have been a record for a show doing a meta joke (“Is it your turn to take a field trip with Zuko?” “Yes!”).  Good thing it’s about to end, else I’d be afraid of it becoming self-aware.  Good filler, nice character study (though I think I missed the shot of the full moon allowing Katara to do blood bending) and I liked how at the end, both Zuko and Aang were right (Katara needed to face the guy, but didn’t need to kill him).

17. the Ember Island Players – This!  This is how you do a recap episode!  It’s like the writers put out a request to have the fans write a summary of the last few seasons and then put it on screen.  The meta jokes… Toph’s reaction… if every show decided to do recaps like this, I might be much less cynical.  Plus, it provided one of the best jokes of all time.

(oh, and Suki looks good in fire nation duds)

18. Sozin’s Comet, Part 1: the Pheonix King – So… Aang doesn’t really want to kill the fire lord, eh?  You know, earlier I complained about how I could never figure out how the Fire Nation wiped out the Air Nomads but now I see why: the monks didn’t fight back.  At all (apparently).  Well I could go on a rant about this belief but won’t bother.

This episode contained my second and third favorite moment of the series: Azula getting bitch-slapped by her daddy, and the group finding June again – while she’s fighting Ryu from Street Fighter.  Seriously, why hasn’t anyone done a SF/Avatar fighting crossover game?  Do video game makers just have some some hatred of money?

All in all, not much to talk about in this episode as it’s just a set up for what’s to come…

19. Sozin’s Comet, Part 2: the Old Masters – My favorite old people return!  (Because “all old people know each other” you know.)  Seriously, can we just get an entire series about the White Lotus club?  Bumi, Piandao, Iroh… I just want 3 seasons of all these guys hanging out.  They can just rock on the porch and yell at kids to get off their lawn and it would still be awesome!

But to balance out all the heartwarming moments (maybe I teared up a little at Zuko’s & Iroh’s reunion, but you can’t prove anything!), we have Aang struggling to find an alternate solution to the fire king.  And… notice how the line of the Avatar (other than going in order of nation) also seems to have gone male-female-male-female-etc until Roku-Aang?  But then that would mean that every fire & water avatar would have been male while every air & earth avatar would have been female.  Actually, avatar Kuruk reminded me once again that there was supposed to be a spirit world involved in this whole thing – did the writers forget about it too?  It’s especially funny when you notice that in the live movie (may it forever burn), M. Night put a greater emphasis on the spirit world than even the show’s first season did.  Ah well, shame he won’t be doing any more, because the lion-turtle would have been REALLY trippy to see on the big screen.

20. Sozin’s Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno – Fighting!  Lots and lots of fighting!  Toph becomes Iron [wo]Man.  Ozai becomes the Rocketeer!  The elders of the White Lotus kick so much ass my dvd player nearly melted!

Two things did bug me though (other than the lack of guard rail on those airships*):

  1. Did we really need to see Ozai flying around like that?  I was really hoping to see him fly upright in perhaps a fire-sphere, like Magneto does (with magnets!).  It does show us something about his character that we see him lose his poise there but… I was kind of hoping he would fly more like Jeong Jeong.
  2. I really laughed over Sokka’s plan to empty the airship of fire nation soldiers (he said it was someone’s birthday [it was] and had everyone meet in the cargo hold for cake [a lie] and then dumped the hold).  But it seemed weird for the show to get us to like and attach ourselves to these brief, delightful characters… and then kill them off.  I mean, did anyone come get them?  Did they drown?  Get eaten by dog-sharks (or whatever aquatic predators the world has)?  I really want to know what happened to those guys!

*that’s what makes evil nations so evil you know – no OSHA.

21. Sozin’s Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang – Here, I have to say that I liked the way the show handled Azula’s mental breakdown.  At first I was going to say it was too sudden, but on reflection I realized the break was when Mai & Ty Lee turned on her – ruining the princess’s Fire Lord’s chance of ever trusting anyone ever again.  Otherwise, a really kick ass and awesome finish to the series.  The only fault I have is with Aang’s final solution to Ozai.

Oh no, don’t get me wrong: I have no problems with the concept of spirit bending or his using it – I just couldn’t believe they executed it in that way.  Did anyone, for one second, believe that Aang was really in danger of losing to Ozai’s spirit?  No!  This show is on freakin’ Nickelodeon!  They don’t have the guts to do a downer ending.  Why even bother with that “suspense”?  The whole time I kept expecting to see the past avatar’s suddenly “arrive” (or appear) and together, drive back Ozai’s spirit until he lost his ability to bend.  Go on, you can immediately picture a dozen ways that scene could have played out, don’t you?  Instead of a great moment of awesome and heartwarming we get… fake suspense.  Bad move writers – bad move.

Still, this is a great show, and next I’ll be giving my general thoughts and stuff.

Sozin’s Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King

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One thought on “Nate watches Avatar #3.16-3.21

  1. **Cracks knuckles**

    I’ve been waiting for you to get to the finale, simply because it is (for me at least) the great flaw of the entire series, the one thing that prevents a show that I already consider to be as close to a timeless classic from being perfect.

    Ozai and the final battle.

    First, a little set up:

    For much the series we don’t get a clear view of what the Fire Lord looks like. We see a large shadow wreathed by flame, his flowing robe and frame making his outline seem jagged and inhuman. When Zuko and the other Firebenders recall him, the audience can only see a terrible shadowy specter. He did not speak for much of the series and yet his presence was chilling to behold. People spoke of him, his evil and his terrible power whispered by fearful witnesses or praised by the truly wicked.

    Several times in the series, plans by the main characters are countered as Fire Nation agents remark that “The Fire Lord thought you would you do that” or “Did you not think that the Fire Lord could not see through your plain?”

    Furthermore, we are constantly shown the skill, ingenuity and power of the main characters…and yet are constantly reminded that even with all their might, Aang will need to become the master of all elements in order to stand even a slight chance of defeating Fire Lord Ozai.

    Aang: The guy who can go berserk and become a living god and toss around battleships like toys needs even more power if he is to stand a chance against Ozai.

    At this point, I began to wonder if Zuko’s dad was actually Mephisto. He’s demonically ruthless, wields power that can rival the Avatar and is apparently omniscient. Now did I just describe a villain from a Nickelodeon cartoon or the Prince of Darkness himself?

    Yet the big story was only being hinted at: in a series where even the minor characters get a huge back story, deep motivations, and fully realized characterization, surely the big reveal of why Ozai was causing all this carnage was going to equally big (if not more!). We would learn his backstory and what led him down his dark path, making the audience question every preconceived notion we had about him, and/or making us wonder how Aang and the crew could overcome such a force of destruction.

    ….nope.

    We don’t get diddly squat. Instead he just basically says, “BLARGH! I R TEH PHOENIX KING! I R TAKING OVA YER WORLD AN KILLIN YER DOODS!!”, fights Aang and then gets taken out by Aang’s Fist of the Northstar impression (I was halfway expecting Aang to sprout a mullet, point at Ozai and utter “You are already dead”).

    That’s it.

    We don’t know why he’s evil. We don’t have any backstory. Now that I think about it, he wasn’t even that much of a challenge for Aang to overcome.

    What a let down!

    They could have made Ozai into a truly memorable villain, but instead he’s the most disappointing boss fight since Exodus from Ultima 3.

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